Ukulele for beginners, dress code optional

The ukulele is one of the easiest instruments to play. No need to run out for a loud Hawaiian shirt, you can dress any way you please and play almost anything on this cool little instrument. Here’s a quick tutorial. Want a video lesson? Find it here. If you want Skype lessons, contact me.  I also teach in my home studio in Ottawa, ON.

Buy a ukulele

You probably want a soprano, concert or tenor ukulele. (A baritone is tuned like a guitar so I won’t talk about them in this post.) Don’t worry about brand. You should be able to get one for under $100. You can spend as little as $30, but be careful you don’t get a toy. Buy it at a reputable music store. Prices may be cheaper at a pawn shop or garage sale, but too often, you get what you pay for.


Soprano, concert and tenor ukes are tuned G, C, E, A (top to bottom if you’re right handed). Invest in a tuner and it’ll tell you when you’re getting close to the right note. The best ones are the ones that clip onto the instrument, like this one:

Or, you can use this site and hear what each string should sound like.

Hold it

Hold it under one arm. Put your left hand under the neck and place your thumb in the back or on top of the neck.

Learn some chords

Just look at the diagram like it’s the top of the ukulele neck. The dots are where you put your fingers.

This video gives you a quick tutorial on the C and F chords:


Strum down with your thumb and up with your index finger. Move down and up in an even and steady way, like you were moving to the ticking of a clock.

Find songs

There are thousands of songs at Chordie.  After you find a song you like, look at the right side of the page and where it says “tuning” change it from “guitar” to “ukulele” and it’ll give you the ukulele chords.

Also, I highly recommend the music at Heartwood Guitar.  Even though the chord sheets are set up for guitar you can see what the chord name is and then look it up on a ukulele chord chart. Here are some great songs for beginners:

Found a peanut

Wild Thing

Orphan Girl

Teardrops on My Guitar

Want more? Find a video lesson here and learn two chords plus how to play “Jambaylaya.”

Did you find this post helpful? Please consider keeping me in coffee and my cats in kibble. And it’s only $2.
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Happy playing!


About jamiebobamie

Musician - teacher - writer - gets bored easily. I write an almost-weekly blog that includes true stories gathered from 20-plus years of touring, how-to articles for musicians and profiles of performers. Also, I love dark chocolate, I can play "Brown Eyed Girl" behind my head, and I twirl the baton badly.
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4 Responses to Ukulele for beginners, dress code optional

  1. Aloha! You read my mind. Just got one a little while ago.

  2. Becky May says:

    In the chorus I sing in (200-voice women’s chorus, Voices From the Heart), 25 of us are playing in our first “Uke Orchestra” for our November concert – great fun!!

  3. Pingback: Easy to play stringed instruments | Jamiebobamie

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